Artificial intelligence has become a weapon of mass destruction in the rap war. 

A red button was pressed on Monday morning when a diss track from Kendrick Lamar mysteriously surfaced on YouTube, featuring shots at Drake. Or was it?

Various members of Drake's OVO crew implied the song was authentic, but it turns out it was actually the work of artificial intelligence, and 23-year-old Sy the Rapper says he’s the mastermind behind it all. 

“I thought people were going to know that it was AI,” Sy tells Complex. “Although it did sound real, it sounded like an old version of Kendrick Lamar. It didn't sound like his more up-to-date style, at least in my opinion. The style sounded kind of dated, so I just thought that would be a giveaway, but apparently it wasn't.”

The South Central LA artist had only been playing with AI technology for a year, and after successfully making a Kanye AI song a few months ago, he decided to insert himself in the escalating hip-hop war. “I was going to make a Drake track first,” Sy reveals with a chuckle. “But his track leaked, and I didn't really get around to doing it.”

At this point, it’s hard to believe anything you see on the internet, so when Sy made a TikTok video revealing that he’s behind the AI Kendrick diss, he was understandably met with scepticism. In his initial video, he didn’t show much proof that he actually made the song, and his TikTok page is full of jokes and parody videos, so a lot of people didn’t believe his claims.

And as he points out, some fans wanted to believe the track was real because of their allegiances in the rap war. “I think some people are team Drake, so they run with whatever narrative that the Drake team puts out,” he explained. “But I also think that maybe I didn't break it down enough.” 

I’ll be honest. Before interviewing Sy, I was skeptical, too. I believed that the song was made with artificial intelligence, but Sy’s initial TikTok video didn’t convince me that he was the one behind it, so I asked for proof. He promptly sent multiple timestamped videos and audio files of him rapping lines from the fake song in his own voice, before then applying AI filters to make it sound like Kendrick.

As further evidence, he also sent isolated stems and the grid from the beat that he made. Hearing him rap lyrics from the song, before and after tech alteration, it’s clear that Sy happens to be very good at rapping like Kendrick, plus he has an LA accent, which is part of the reason why his song sounds more convincing than hundreds of other AI Kendrick diss tracks circulating the internet right now.

As a fan of Kendrick, Sy says he tried to put himself in the mindset of the Compton rapper when he wrote the lyrics. “I just had to place myself in Kendrick's shoes, and it didn’t seem like Kendrick would come out swinging for the kill, considering that the [Drake] song was a ‘leaked’ track,” Sy points out, explaining why the song is full of noticeably mild bars.

“[Drake’s leaked diss song] didn’t officially drop. So I was thinking more so in the mindset of, ‘If I'm Kendrick, I wouldn't want to show my hand too early, since this song has been leaked and it's not an official drop, so I can't just come out swinging. I’ve got to come out with sort of a warning shot.’”

As artificial intelligence technology improves, fake songs are becoming increasingly prevalent (and believable). At a time of increasing disinformation on the internet, they're also potentially dangerous.

AI creators like Sy have received justified criticism for making songs that deceive listeners, and he has no stakes in the beef between Kendrick and Drake, but when he saw people running with the narrative that Kendrick started the AI rumours as a ploy to disavow a weak diss, he decided it was time to come out and reveal that the song was fake.

“I really didn't think it would affect anything, but when I saw that narrative, I'm like, ‘Nah, I can't just let that rock,’ because that's just not the truth. That's what made me debunk it.”

Follow this wild rabbit hole to better understand how Sy the rapper tricked the rap world into thinking Kendrick Lamar responded to Drake with his AI diss track.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.